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Anna Pavlova was a Russian prima ballerina during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Anna Matveyevna Pavlova was born in the  Preobrazhensky Regiment hospital,  Saint Petersburg  where her father Matvey Pavlovich Pavlov served. Some sources say that her parents married just before her birth, others — years later. Her mother Lyubov Feodorovna Pavlova came from peasants and worked as a laundress at the house of a Russian-Jewish banker Lazar Polyakov  for some time. When Anna rose to fame, Polyakov's son Vladimir claimed that she was an illegitimate daughter of his father yet no historical proof has ever been found to support this claim. Anna Matveyevna changed her patronymic to Pavlova when she started performing on stage.

Pavlova was a  premature child , regularly felt ill and was soon sent to the  Ligovo  village where her grandmother looked after her. Pavlova's passion for the art of  ballet  was ignited when her mother took her to a performance of  Marius Petipa's original production of  The Sleeping Beauty  at the  Imperial Maryinsky Theater . The lavish spectacle made an impression on Pavlova. When she was nine, her mother took her to audition for the renowned Imperial Ballet School . Because of her youth, and what was considered her appearance, she was rejected, but, at age 10, in 1891, she was accepted. She appeared for the first time on stage in  Marius Petipa's  Un conte de fées  (A Fairy Tale), which the ballet master staged for the students of the school.

"No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius"

Young Pavlova's years of training were difficult.  Classical ballet  did not come easily to her. Her severely arched feet, thin ankles, and long limbs clashed with the small, compact body favoured for the ballerina of the time. Her fellow students taunted her with such nicknames as The broom and La petite sauvage. Undeterred, Pavlova trained to improve her technique. She would practice and practice after learning a step. She said, "No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius"; She took extra lessons from the noted teachers of the day— Christian Johansson ,  Pavel Gerdt ,  Nikolai Legat —and from  Enrico Cecchetti , considered the greatest ballet virtuoso of the time and founder of the  Cecchetti method , a very influential ballet technique used to this day. In 1898, she entered the classe de perfection of  Ekaterina Vazem , former Prima ballerina of the Saint PetersburgImperial Theatres.

During her final year at the Imperial Ballet School, she performed many roles with the principal company. She graduated in 1899 at age 18, chosen to enter the Imperial Ballet a rank ahead of corps de ballet as a coryphée. She made her official début at the Mariinsky Theatre in Pavel Gerdt's Les Dryades prétendues (The False Dryads). Her performance drew praise from the critics, particularly the great critic and historian Nikolai Bezobrazov. Pavlova is perhaps most renowned for creating the role of  The Dying Swan , a solo choreographed for her by  Michel Fokine . The ballet, created in 1905, is danced to  Le cygne  from  The Carnival of the Animals  by  Camille Saint-Saëns .

Pavlova also choreographed several solos herself, one of which is The Dragonfly, a short ballet set to music by Fritz Kreisler. While performing the role,Pavlova wore a gossamer gown with large dragonfly wings fixed to the back. she was nine, her mother took her to audition for the renowned Imperial Ballet School. Because of her youth, and what was considered her appearance, she was rejected, but, at age 10, in 1891, she was accepted. She appeared for the first time on stage in  Marius Petipa's  Un conte de fées  (A Fairy Tale), which the ballet master staged for the students of the school.